Publishers Joining TikTok

3 Questions for Publishers to Ask Before Joining TikTok

Publishers of all sizes are growing their audiences using TikTok. Here’s what you should know before joining this year’s trendiest mobile video app.

In a short period of time, TikTok has grown from relative obscurity to social media phenomenon. The short-form video app now ranks as the No. 1 entertainment app on the Apple App Store.

While TikTok started out as an app for teenagers who wanted to share lip syncing videos and viral dance challenges, it has quickly evolved into an all-encompassing video platform. Publishers of all sizes are now using the service to post their own explainers and fact-check videos. In the process, they’re elevating their own reporters to celebrity status and courting the youngest generation of future news consumers.

TikTok isn’t the first mobile app to boast an impressive user base of affluent teens and twenty-somethings. It won’t be the last, either. It wasn’t very long ago that Snapchat was the media darling, and news publishers were clambering to find new and innovative ways to take advantage of the platform. But with 60% of TikTok’s users between the ages of 16 and 24 years old, news publishers looking to court a younger readership. They are interested in experimenting with ways to capitalize on interest in the platform.

Joining TikTok as a media outlet isn’t difficult. The company doesn’t actually have a way for publishers to directly monetize its app—yet. But the real cost associated with joining TikTok is in the time that publishers are taking away from other marketing and editorial efforts when they invest resources into the platform. Deciding whether the investment is worth it depends on a number of factors, most of which are unique to the individual publication.

If you are thinking about creating a TikTok account for your news publication, ask yourself these questions first.

Is the TikTok audience one that you’re looking to court?

Yes, TikTok is an extremely popular platform. And yes, there are millions of people using the app every day. As a publisher, you need to ask yourself whether the people using TikTok are the core demographic that you’re trying to reach. For example, if you run a niche blog about the crafting or an online magazine focused on the legal industry, then TikTok’s teenage audience probably isn’t a good fit. On the other hand, if you run a lifestyle magazine or a website focused on youth culture, then you should absolutely be using TikTok to find new readers.

Think long and hard about who your audience is and which social platforms they prefer when deciding where to invest your marketing resources.

Can you create the type of content that works on TikTok?

One of the reasons why TikTok has been so successful is because the content on the platform is very different from the content on other social media apps. TikTok’s short-form videos are lively, and they usually appear to be created by individuals rather than organizations. In order to have a successful TikTok account, you need to put the right team in place. You need to have at least one standout employee who understands the platform. This employee will likely become the face of your publication, and he or she should be prepared for everything that can come with notoriety on social media. Do you have someone who can fill this role?

What do you want to get from TikTok?

TikTok is a place for people to connect with individuals, not businesses. Although a number of news publishers have found great success on TikTok—The Los Angeles Times and The Dallas Morning News both come to mind—it’s important to remember that TikTok is not a place for promoting individual news stories. If you’re going to join TikTok, do it for the opportunity to build awareness about your publication as a whole. Don’t join TikTok with the goal of driving traffic to individual news stories on your website.

Whether your publication decides to join TikTok depends largely on your goals and your willingness to invest the resources necessary to get your account off the ground. Publishers like The Washington Post are spending up to four hours preparing each TikTok post. Are you willing to deploy those same resources as you work to grow your audience on the platform?

To learn more about driving traffic and engagement through social media, check out these stories from Web Publisher PRO.